Dawnbreak and New Days


Dawnbreak and New Days

I have to admit to being a bit fanatical about taking photos of the sun as it rises out my window pane whenever I have the joy of an early morning flight.  I am fascinated by the shades of pearly pink, the radiance of the apricot flame, the flare of the purples, the glow of the gold, the pāua blue.  Yes you could say I’m fixated on the morning dawn.

I’ve been looking for the promise of dawn, because I’ve just spent an incredible morning at the Otago Corrections Facility, just out of Milton.   It’s a formidable sight: a single entrance, a concrete perimeter fence, xray security clearance for everyone who walks through the doors – hardly the promise of a rose-tinged dawn.  Yet it was in this facility that I heard the most ugliest and most awesome of stories, through the power of Project Kete.

Photo: Department of Corrections.

Photo: Department of Corrections.

Project Kete is one of our initiatives funded by Te Pūtahitanga for the opportunity to facilitate long-term change for high-end complex Māori male offenders and their whānau.   For many of the men who come on Project Kete, it offers them a model of transformation, to help support them to build the story of who they are and where they come from as Māori.   It is about treating the cause – not the symptom.

Project Kete is run under a subsidiary company of Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, A3 Kaitiaki limited and championed by the inspirational Michelle Taiaroa-McDonald.   Participants learn about cultural lineage and the connection to Papatūānuku.   Through wānanga the men are provided with tools to encourage them to reflect.

In the conversation I had with one man who had been through Project Kete I heard out the experience he’d had through a long history of institutionalisation and incarceration.   He talked about learning to find ‘safety in numbers’ (hence the affiliation to a gang); his determination to never be a victim again after years as a ward of the state in which he suffered the most inhumane experiences of physical and sexual abuse in the name of ‘foster care’.   A young boy savagely attacked by adults in the name of ‘the duty of care’.   

It made me cry – for him, for all our little children who are shaped – mis-shaped – by the abuse, the trauma, the unresolved grief, the violence, the neglect done to him.

And yet, there was hope – hope in the form of mokopuna.   For the man I spoke with, he talked about the one person in his life whom he could give unconditional love to – and that was all the reason he needed to turn his life around.   

It could not have been a more opportune time to be hearing these stories.   Today we made our submission on the Oranga Tamariki Bill.   

There have been some wonderful submissions.   I thought a particularly salient point was made by Johnny Joseph of Ngāti Toarangatira Manawhenua ki te Tau Ihu Trust and Ms Molly Luke MNZM of Parerarua Trustees, also the Chair of Te Taumata, the iwi partner board for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

“The department is also responsible by not engaging whānau, hapū and ensuring wider whakapapa searches are conducted to enable a ‘safe’ whānau member for ‘homes for life’ placements to be identified”.  

Whānau, hapū and iwi must be enabled and assisted to participate in decision-making over their children, and the new department, Oranga Tamariki, must do everything it can to connect our children with their foundations – their genealogy, their history, their future.


Inspired for a better life

What a joy it was this week to be sent a couple of ‘good news’ stories by Nicci McDougall from Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu ltd.   Now there’s a challenge for Whānau Ora entities around Te Waipounamu……send your great news stories this way!

A Whanau Led Journey (James Towers)

By Nicci McDougall

James Towers is aiming to win his whanau’s Biggest Loser Challenge from another country.  James, 27, a car salesman, is a part of the Pikia whanau, who are competing in a 12-week Biggest Loser Challenge where weigh ins occur each week and $5 fines are handed out for weight gain.

James, whose two sisters and brother are also competing, lives in Australia with his partner Zharmaine and five-year-old son Malakai.  He was inspired to join the challenge by his whanau’s drive to get together to become healthy and fit.

“I thought this was just mint. It is something that would build your whanau up and it will be awesome for our tamariki to look up to everyone putting their health and fitness above all.”

James is keen to know and understand more about health and fitness – what foods are good and what he and his family’s bodies need to grow. His starting weight was 120.6kg and he is down to 116.2kg, and has noticed a “massive difference” in his personal fitness.

“I think I could run past my letterbox without breaking a sweat.” To achieve his goals James has changed some of his habits.   “I have been trying to get out on as many bikes rides with my son. Instead of driving to the play grounds and shops we get on the bike and ride down. I’ve also signed up to the gym and try head down there as much as possible.”

His end goal is to reach 100kg – a weight he hasn’t been since he was 16.

Nga Kete’s Mauri Ora Nurse Dee Curwood stops in to perform health checks on each family member (in Invercargill). Those checks can include cholesterol, blood pressure, and cervical screenings. Some of the family have also signed up to the Southern Stop Smoking Service.

Whānau Enterprise Coaches

This week we brought together our awesome team of Coaches to a day of being together, based at one of the local providers in town, Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi.   

The Whānau Enterprise Coach role is a pivotal role. The purpose of this role is to support new whānau initiatives that Te Pūtahitanga has invested in.

Whānau Enterprise Coaches are a key part of a suite of support mechanisms offered to whānau in the Te Pūtahitanga commissioning pipeline.  They are a further resource working within the community across Te Waipounamu on behalf of Te Putahitanga with a strong knowledge of business development and enterprise and the ability to work within the local Māori community.

It was fabulous to listen to their diverse experiences, to hear what they had to offer and to feel the sense of excitement and purpose that they bring to their work with whānau.

Awarua - Whiriwhiringa Graduation

Last weekend, Pari Hunt and Vania Pirini represented us at the Whānau Ora graduation held at Te Rau Aroha Marae.   The Whānau Ora Navigator, Serena Lyders, has held a series of wānanga to support and encourage whānau in their journeys.   Each whānau who graduated spoke about their pathways of success in their whānau plans.

Young single Mamas spoke about their new hīkoi and adapting to new environments for the wellbeing of their young families, education and job opportunities.

A key question that was asked of them from whānau was “How have you been able to go forward?”.  Most of them responded with a consistent message – the most important thing is to have belief in themselves that they can do it.

And now, to finish the week in great style…..drum roll please……

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is thrilled to announce that Wave Six of ORA funding has been officially opened on 3 March 2017.

We use the word ‘wave’ to describe our funding rounds because while it has many different meanings, they are all to do with an undulating motion – the notion of movement, swelling in momentum, a natural event involving a change.

Whānau Ora is all about creating and sustaining movement towards the state of ‘ora’ – an evolving state of wellbeing.

“We want to reach far and wide, from the southern waters of Bluff, to the northern tips of Tai Tapu and Takaka; across the Alps and over the Arthurs and Lewis Pass.   This is about whānau in the South Island exerting their energy to do whatever it takes to achieve their whānau goals.  

Wave Six is an open commissioning round running from 3rd March through to Friday 31 March.   Applications can be submitted via the website at www.teputahitanga.org.

Catch the Wave!   Apply now for the opportunity to help your whānau realise its aspirations.